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Tough opposition and tough course for Lizzie Armitstead
Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armistead will lead the British women’s cycling charge in the UCI World Road Race Championships in Florence this Saturday.
Armitstead shot to fame after becoming the first medallist at London 2012, which effectively kick-started Great Britain’s medal rush.
And the 24-year-old from Otley will come up against a familiar foe in Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos – who pipped her to gold in London.
But Armitstead believes that it will be a tough test to teach the same heights she hit last year this weekend.
She said: “I’ll be intrigued to see the course. All I’ve heard is that it’s the toughest course in years, a climbers’ course.
“It may not be an ideal course for me. It will be a race where I have to ride opportunistically.
“My form this season has been consistently average to good. I’ve had no scintillating results – we’re a small team and I don’t know if I'll be able to sneak under the radar.”
With an undersized team to back her up in Katie Colclough, Nikki Harris and double world junior champion Lucy Garner – Emma Pooley declined her place to focus on PhD studies – Armitstead will be surprised if she has any support late in the race.
She said: “There are much stronger teams than us and I hope we can use them to our advantage. I may just follow Marianne or the Italians because I think they will be the team to beat.”
This winter, Armitstead will return to track racing – her first love alongside the road – as she will compete in three of the Revolution series events after Christmas.
It is something she misses after what was previously one of her best events – the points race – was dropped from the Olympic programme, meaning she has to give her attention to the road.
“I don’t want to shut the door on it, it’s difficult to give it up completely, although in an Olympic year it would take total focus. Watch this space.”
Despite winning the first medal at the games on the July 29 last year, Armitstead admitted that her life has not been that different from that day.
She added: “In terms of being a famous person, it hasn’t changed anything. It’s not important for me.”
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